Seasonal worker caravan plan is passed despite objections

A CONTROVERSIAL plan to increase the number of caravans for seasonal workers at Staples has been given the go-ahead by planners – despite significant objections from people living nearby.

The Wrangle farm has been given permission to up the number of vans parked on its Marsh Farm site from 41 to 63, to accommodate more staff under a Government scheme providing holiday work for students from other countries.

More than 130 students from Bulgaria and Romania are expected to work at the farm under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAWS) programme, which allows them to work for up to six months in the company’s peak season.

Because of the amount of people coming into the area, some people living nearby feared the impact granting this planning application would have on services in the area. Other concerns included extra traffic and the fact that local people were being overlooked for vital jobs.

At a meeting of the planning board last Tuesday, objector Dean Everitt said: “These jobs are needed for people who are unemployed in Boston.

“We have enough migrant problems in Boston at the moment without adding more of them.”

Worries about over-crowding on the site were also mentioned.

But marketing director Vernon Read denied that any of these would be issues.

He told the committee: “The amenity building is more than capable of providing an excellent level of 24-hour care.

“We have been approved by the Home Office, the Health and Safety Executive, and the Gangmaster’s Licencing Authority, and all have been very impressed by our processes and worker welfare.”

Staples claims that it prefers to accommodate workers on site so it can train them and look after their welfare. Mr Read added that the company prefers that to using gang labour, which is described as ‘not a viable alternative’ for the company.

He added: “Accomodating SAWS on site is the most sustainable way.”

The company recently launched a recruitment drive to fill the 131 posts, but only one suitable candidate was found.

Planners put aside the objections raised against the application in their meeting on Tuesday to approve it with a majority of 12. Just one councillor – Mayor Colin Brotherton – abstained from voting on the application.